Monday, July 14, 2014

CNW Hopper Fleet: Getting Dirty

Over the past couple days I began weathering this portion of the fleet. In my chosen era most of these cars are either new or have been repainted within about 5 years. Because of this they require only light weathering. Easy does it has not typically been my forte when weathering but they aren't half bad.

I used craft paint for the weathering, just 2 colors, Pebble and Burnt Umber. I mixed the paint on a palate with window washer fluid working the paint into the "thinner" a little at a time until I thought it looked about right. Then I used a wedge shaped makeup sponge to wipe the thinned paint down the side of the cars top to bottom. All 4 received a Pebble bath, and the two green ones also received a Burnt Umber bath. The car with the top rib got heavier weathering on the ends beyond the rib as per some photos I found online. Trucks were painted with straight from the bottle Burnt Umber and couplers lightly dry brushed.  The ex Rock hopper didn't turn out great but the others are ok. I have yet to seal them with another coat of flat clear so I may wash that one down and try again.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

CNW Hopper Fleet: Done With Paint

In a nearly unprecedented stretch of contiguous modeling, I am done with paint!

I used decals from the Microscale 60-1299 set for all the numbers and reporting marks, and the heralds on the green cars. The black & white herald and the teeny one on the patched car were done with Paint.NET, Testors decal paper, and my 10 year old printer. They turned out ok, not great but passable. The film is a little thick and the ink bubbled up just a little, but they're not bad at normal viewing distance. I left off a lot of the tiny warning labels and such, in my experience they are not visible after even the lightest weathering and after individually applying all those numbers I was done with decals for a bit. They stuck fine to the blue craft paint, but were kind of a one shot deal. The water and Micro Sol made the paint tacky so you pretty much have to put the solution on, put the decal on, position, walk away. I'm not very good at the walk away part. After several dry, Micro Sol, dry Micro Sol cycles the big heralds laid down and settled over the ribs nicely. Even the thick home made one. All the cars then got a shot of Krylon Acrylic Crystal Clear Flat, my new Dulcoat alternative of choice.

You'll notice there's a 5th car snuck in here. That is an Exact Rail high side PS 4427 I got second hand. It was lightly but tastefully weathered when I got it. As long as I was printing decals I printed up a CNW patch for it and stuck it on. It is from the first run, so no body mount couplers. That might get addressed later.

Friday, June 13, 2014

CNW Hopper Fleet: 3 More Paint Jobs

The paint is done on the 3 other cars in this batch now also. These were painted with model paint vs the craft paint on the Rock Island patch earlier this week. Gray is Model Master Gull Gray thinned just a bit with WW fluid, green is Polly Scale CNW Green. This is more of a "93 Green" than the earlier 1970's green and I always have trouble getting it to cover without getting thick. These were no exception. It's also got an odd glossy sheen that is hard to dull even with a flat finish over the top. Thankfully it's almost gone so I won't be tempted to use it many more times. The Gull Gray went on pretty smooth. I did have to touch both up just a bit with a brush, there are so many nooks and crannies on the end frames and bottom it's near impossible to spray and hit everything without over doing it on other areas. I'll need to scrape the paint off the coupler pad on the Micro Trains car, the pad is actually the top of the coupler box and is pretty clogged with paint. In hindsight I should have put a dab of jelly or grease there to keep the paint from sticking. The paint is all done now though. They're dry to the touch but I'll let them cure for a day or so before trying to decal or weather.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

CNW Hopper Fleet: Bankruptcy Blue Patch

A quick update on this one. I spent several hours (way the hell longer than I should have/needed/wanted to) trying to shoot craft store paint through my air brush. I ended up with about a 50/50 mix of WW fluid and paint, which was just about a wash but sprayed out nice and after like 10 coats it built up and covered. Would I do it again? Meh, probably not. But this blue was what I though to be a good bankruptcy blue color. It's actually Apple Barrel Pool Blue that I bought to paint a backdrop several years ago, it turned out to be way way to blue for that. It might be too blue now that it's on. The patches are Apple Barrel Regency Blue painted on with a brush about the same width as the panels. That part went pretty smooth and gave the streaky quick and dirty patch look I was going for though I wish I had weathered the PB before adding the RB patches.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

CNW Hopper Fleet: Couplers and Details

Continuing with the CNW Hopper Fleet project, this rainy Sunday I managed to spend a little time adding some details and fitting mounts for body mounted couplers. Was hoping to get some paint on today but of course ran out of time. It's not a race, so no real reason to push it.

Not being really for or against body mounting, but it seems like a neat thing to do and it isn't difficult. I'm not about to body mount every single car I own, but as long as these are stripped down and apart it seems like as good a time as any. The Atlas Trainman car was easy, it just needed a hole drilled in each end. It may need a shim or two to get the height just right but otherwise it's ready to receive a coupler. The Precision Masters car had an open frame, as did the Intermountain. For the PM car I sliced off a chunk of thick For Sale sign and shaped it to fit the round part where the truck mounting pin goes in. It was cut to length so it fits under the end frame and glued on with styrene glue. The thick sign material looks like it will put the coupler at just the right height. The Intermountain car was similar, but instead of thick For Sale sign I used thin and tucked one end up on top of the bolster and trimmed it to fit flush with the inside of the end frame. This one may need a shim also, but it is pretty close as is.

Two of the cars needed some additional detail parts. The Micro Trains PS 4427 is going to be numbered in the 170000-170499 series built in 1967. The herald on these cars was painted on a large flat plate welded to the sides of the car, though the exact placement is up for grabs. Some cars in the series seem to have the plate mounted on the first-third ribs and the lube plate below on the second-third and some have the herald plate on the second-fourth ribs and the lube plate on the first-second. My understanding is it was difficult to paint the herald over the ribs so they welded plates on, but these plates were prone to damage and broken welds that would cause them to tear and slide off while the car was moving and later in life they were removed. I used .005 brass for the herald and lube plates and stuck them on with super glue.

The other car that got a little extra attention was the Intermountain car. It received a rib across the top to mimic what the cars in the 174700-174899 series built 1976 received. To make the rib I sliced of a super thin strip of thin For Sale sign and cut it to fit between the 4th ribs from each end. It was glued on with styrene glue. You might notice that the car had this top rib on it when I started the project, for some reason it did not stick and both sides fell off. This time I made sure to scrape down the primer to bare plastic before gluing so it is permanent now. Arguably everything I did tonight should have been done before primer. I'll probably squirt a little primer into a cup and brush on the brass parts so the paint will have something to bite on.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

CNW Hopper Fleet: Primer

In an unprecedented two post weekend, here is a brief update on the covered hopper project. The paint stripped off all 4 models with varying degrees of success.

The Intermountain hopper didn't strip very well, the top and end frames came clean but the main body for some reason was very stubborn. I got a majority of it off after some vigorous scrubbing with a toothbrush. Likewise for the Precision Masters model, it's paint came off quite stubborn too. The Atlas Trainman was a little easier and is mostly clean, and the Micro-Trains of course was naked plastic within minutes of dunking.

One interesting note about the Micro-Trains PS 4427, the roofwalk seems to be laser cut paper and didn't like the alcohol much. It got soggy and swollen but did eventually dry out. It is not as firm as it used to be, the resin in the paper must have been attacked by the alcohol. I think it will still be usable, but something to be aware of anyway.

I weighed each car and found the Intermountain, Micro Trains, and Atlas Trainman cars to be just right. That is, pretty close to the NMRA recommended weight for a car their length. I'm neither for nor against the standard, but I like my cars to have a little heft to them and it seems reasonable that if nothing else, they should all be consistent so I go with the NMRA weight. The Precision Masters car was a little light, I added a 1/4 oz stick on wheel weight to the bottom. After they were weighed I glued the lids on the PM and Atlas car with styrene glue.

They all got a rinse in some dish soapy water and were allowed to dry thoroughly. Late this afternoon they got a squirt of Duplicolor white sandable primer. I like this, it goes on very thin and dries very fast, but covers well though you can definitely tell the MTL car was brown plastic, the and the Intermountain car was blue.

Friday, May 16, 2014

CNW Hopper Fleet: The First Batch

This week I started preparing a few cars I had lying around for the first batch of CNW hoppers to finish filling out my desired roster. In various stages of disrepair I found an Intermountain 4750, a Precision Masters 4750, and a Trainman Rock Island patch. Also in this batch will be a brand new Micro-Trains 4427.

The Intermountain is in rough shape, some of the roof walks are missing and some of the end frames are broken. This will be the first of 3 more some day. It started life as an ADM blue/white paint job. I contacted Intermountain and they were quite helpful in that they were able to send me replacement roof walks. Note I have already added the horizontal stiffener along the top starting on the 4th vertical rib from each end. Into the alcohol bath it goes.

For the first of two more 4427's a brand new brown BNSF car will be sacrificed. The roof walk bowed up sometime this winter, the humid basement seems to have that effect on them. This one is going right from the package to the tub.

The Precision Masters 4750 is not as pretty as the Intermountain car, but it has a top rib that runs end to end, similar to the Berwick cars. This started out as part of a UP 3 pack that I tested some weathering techniques on with zero success. Into the bath it goes. It looks really warped in this picture, I assure you other than a loose top that is somewhat bowed, it is otherwise true.

Atlas did two different 3 packs of their Trainman Thrall 4750 hoppers a few years ago and I was in for both. They're a little out of my era but I had to have em. One of them is a bankruptcy blue Rock Island patch, though the blue paint is a little thick looking and not really what I think of as being the right color. I tried weathering it but it didn't help. It looks better than the UP car but still pretty terrible, then when trying to remove the weathering most of the lettering wiped off too. I've got an idea for how to fix all this, it's soaking with the others now. Please excuse the gob of putty on the elevator, it's a work in progress too.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CNW Hopper Fleet

This past week I started up a small project to grow my covered hopper fleet a bit. I would imagine I will be doing a couple small batches vs one big lot in the interest of time, money, and, well, time and money. First, a little background on the project.

There are 3 main sources of info for this project. North Western Lines Vol 13, No. 4 (Fall 1986), The Chicago & North Western Final Freight Car Roster, and CNWHS Modeler Vol 3, Issue 2. This issue of NWL contains a 20 page article on the CNW's jumbo hopper fleet as of about 1980. It includes b&w photos, descriptions, some drawings, and a roster with 4000cft and larger hoppers in the fleet. Only available on CD now from CNWHS, but if you shop around you can find paper copies. Probably not the most interesting reading, but certainly a great tool if you're modeling pre DM&E CNW on the prairie (or early DM&E). The Final Freight Car Roster is just plain necessary for any CNW enthusiast, color photos, descriptions, and drawings of every type of car still on the rails in 1995. Referenced frequently at my house anyway. CNWHS Modeler is a maybe quarterly e-pub with some neat articles about various CNW models, one of the regular contributors models about the same stuff as I'm interested in (albeit Horribly Oversize). Vol 3 Issue 2 has an article with some simple math in it for how the author arrived at how many of what type of hopper he should have in his fleet.

Armed with this info at my disposal I evaluated my own hopper fleet and determined I had some work to do. I'm shooting for a total number of around 12. Here's how things break down so far:
  • 2x PS 4427 low side, Exact Rail, one green and one ex TDLX Continental Grain patch
  • 1x ACF 4650, Intermountain, green
  • 1x  FMC 4700, Red Caboose, green
  • 1x Thrall 4750, Atlas Trainman, ex ROCK patch
  • 1x PS 4750, Intermountain/CNWHS, pea green
There's 9 already, but as you can see only one PS 4750 just won't do. There are also no high side 4427's, and no miscellaneous like the odd ball Berwick and Ingalls cars, cylindrical cars built by Marine Industries or the GATC 4700s from CGW. The GATC might be a tough one, no model exists. That's probably a kit bash project on it's own. The Berwick and Ingalls built cars are as far as I can tell clones of the Pullman 4750 only gray with a black and white herald instead of green with black and yellow. The Marine cylindrical hoppers can easily be done with Intermountain models, and the high side PS 4427's can be done with Micro-Trains models. Given all this, here's what I'd like to ad:
  • 2x PS 4427 high side, Micro-Trains, green
  • 1x Misc 4750, Intermountain, gray Berwick/Ingalls stand-in
  • 3x PS 4750, Intermountain, green
  • 2x MI Cylindrical, Intermountain, gray Farmland patch
Hey that's not bad. I was shooting for 12, and hit 14. Those two cylindrical hoppers don't really count though as they are for bulk dry fertilizer service not corn, beans, or wheat. It's maybe not accurate ratio wise, but it will certainly give the impression of a mixed fleet and gives me the satisfaction of having one of everything. It's hard to compress a several thousand car roster into 12. Sorry, no pictures again this time, just words.